Afternoon Tea with SJ

Good afternoon, and thank you for joining me in this tea time. For those of you who don’t know, I’m your host SJ, the bibliomaniac. I have just started a new monthly series where I sit down with a tea set and gracefully communicate with you my month. (I’ve seen others doing this, and it looked so much fun that I couldn’t resist!)

So to begin with, imagine yourself sitting in a greenhouse overflowing with English house plants.

From the translucent glass around you, the timid afternoon sun glitters in. Refracting vibrant hues, the glass dome is crisscrossed by occasional climbing ivies. We are seated in white wicker chairs completed by plushy hand-sewed cushions. And the tea set is Victorian fine china, with Japanese style sweets! (Sorry, I can’t carry English cakes. Or North American cakes, for that matter.)

Are you fully seated? Can you see yourself there?

Excellent! *sips tea*

To begin with, let me share a little overview of February:

It’s said in a Japanese proverb that January passed by before knocking an arrow, and February flees from us. In my case, this was absolutely true.


I read eight books this month, which is quite less than what I’m aiming for a month! *inhales, exhales, sips tea* For my academics, I’m trying to complete the list of 120 classical books by June. Plus, books that I can’t resist reading. Yes, it’s sort of like a death wish, but I really couldn’t restrain myself. *bites off a section of matcha macaroons* So hopefully next month, I can give you a more upbeat update on this.

February Books:

  1. Dear Ally, How Do You Write a Book?
  2. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
  3. Self-Reliance, and Other Essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson
  4. The Republic by Plato
  5. The Magician King by Lev Grossman
  6. Demian by Hermann Hesse
  7. The Early History of Rome by Livy
  8. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
Oh, and my sister and I fell for 100 Days of Sunlight!

Overall, I really liked Dear Ally, The Republic, Demian, and The Old Man and the Sea. 

It was funny since I didn’t really expect Dear Ally to be this useful. Written by Ally Carter, the author of Embassy Row series (or the Gallagher Girls), it incorporated first-hand experiences and advice for traditional publishing. I’m thinking I’ll try to read books on writing, and maybe start a new series on it!


Good News: I finished all of my financial aid processes, and got accepted into Patrick Henry College with scholarships! (Waiting for the rest of the colleges’ decision release, praying fervently.)

I’m also reviewing calculus and just found out about the existence of tau! (The Tau Manifesto v. The Pi Manifesto)

Oh, and a fun (?) interview for UPenn! Quite sure I botched it, though.

Not-so Good News: I’m really behind on my research project I’m doing at Science World and didn’t take it into account how much physics calculations I had to do…

I also need to find a job soon, since I really don’t have enough for college life (and I’m also trying to buy a viola, too…)

And I did probably fail Kanji Test Level 2 (but hey, I tried!) Plus, Level 1 is the hardest. Level 2 is like the second hardest. It must count for something.

So overall, it’s been a progressive month.


Before we start, a tea refill of teas I usually drink: English Breakfast (for early morning writing sprints, knocks you awake), Earl Grey (soft royal scent, also good for mornings), or Sayama green tea (one of the most expensive brands I carry).

Sayama green tea? Good choice!

Okay, now I’m ready to talk about this.

Initially, I was planning to finally finish working on part three of my main WIP, Juliet the 1100th. The wordcount goal was 150K.

I wrote up to 138K.

Which, by the way, isn’t terrible. I only have 12K more to go. And if I push through the next few weeks, I should be able to work it out. Possibly even start a new WIP!

So that’s where I’m at for February.

Thank you for joining me for tea, and hope you have a pleasant afternoon!

To Write or Not to Write, That is the Question.

I had two weeks of pushing myself to the limits, titled death weeks by boot camps. But lo and behold! I have survived and returned, now a conqueror of strings boot camp and karate boot camp. I’ve encountered countless struggles such as garbage intonations, self-doubts, and sore muscles (from various reasons spanning from playing viola for five~six hours to sparring with black belts). And as you can guess from my presence here as a post, I am somewhat operational.

Originally, I had already outlined a post in my mind about blow-your-mind-level YA books I’ve encountered this year (because that seldom happens in YA) when I realized that this week was my writing blog topic, not reading. Argh!

Alwith, I have had countless valuable insights from learning to write music. Because I was away from all the business at home, I could bang out more wordcounts than normal. I’m hoping I can keep up this pace. But even if I don’t, as long as I keep writing, that’s what matters…And this leads me to the topic today, To Write or Not to Write,

A. To Write

Writing consistency, in case you might have noticed, is one of the main reasons there are such things as amateurs and professional writers. If there was one thing I learned over my past three years of “serious” writing, it’s that consistency is key. As with anyone looking to become a professional– says, a professional violist–they need to put in a consistent amount of practice time. And like my viola teacher/Shihan would say, not just any kind of time. It has to be quality practise time. Note: they never tell me to put in an insane amount of time. Just a daily, repeating effort. For my viola, I only practise about an hour or two a day. For karate, maybe five to thirty minutes. But if in that hour/five minutes, I have laser focus to tackle the areas I need to work in, I can come out of it with a better set of skills than the time I went in.

This resonates true for writing. If you can fit in five minutes of writing every day, that alone can help with consistency. I wrote everyday for thirty days once, and it really helped me form a habit of writing. Now, if I miss a day of writing, I start feeling nauseous. And one thing that really helps in building consistency is to have a set time. For me, early morning works best because my distractions are all asleep.

B. To NOT Write

Now you might be wondering, “Writing everyday sounds wonderful and all. But what if you simply have no time whatsoever to write?” Before we go on any further, I beg you, dear comrades, to ask yourselves, “Is writing a priority to me?” Please do not be offended. However, this is the exact question that I, too, had to answer. Because the reason we have no time to write is not that we don’t have any. Everyone has the same twenty-four hours every day. Some write in that slot, some cannot. And the reason is all about priority.

I, for example, have college looming in the near future. Due to my high aspirations coupled with the fact I am homeschooled, I have to make sure I have a solid battle plan to hit my marks. This means I have to study close to eight or nine hours a day. That still feels like it’s not enough. Plus, I wish to minor in viola, so I might need to bump up a few things that way. Yet writing is my love. I still manage to fit in writing amidst all the stress and chaos of my senior year. Often enough, if you ruthlessly comb through your day, you would find those pockets of time you spend in unproductivity from mindlessly browsing the social media, etc., etc.

However, I do understand that there are times when you really need a break from your writing. I had a time earlier this year when I took a break due to my mental health conditions. Sometimes you might be physically or mentally too sick to write. And that’s okay. But ultimately, it was my writing that helped me express my thoughts and feelings, and to get over them.

So in the end, I would say that writing is a 95% job. For the most part, you have the time and ability to write and to get in that daily writing time. However, there are instances of 5% when you absolutely cannot write. My advice to you, dear comrades, is this:

What do you think, comrades? What are some ways you invent your writinig time? I would love to talk with you!